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Court ruling Internet provider ‘not responsible’ for pirated movie sites

A man looks at his computer with his cat

Only legislators have the power to force internet providers to block websites that peddle pirated movies.

(Keystone / Alessandro Della Bella)

Swiss telecoms company Swisscom does not need to block access to websites that give access to pirated movies, the Federal Supreme court has decided. The landmark ruling clears internet providers of responsibility in cases of copyright infringement.

The complaint was brought against the state-owned telecoms giant by the independent Swiss movie and documentary maker Praesens Filmexternal link. The company argued that Swisscom should be obliged to deny its customers access to foreign websites that allow illegal streaming or downloading of films.

But the Supreme Court in Lausanne turned down the complaint on the grounds that Swisscom was not actively helping others violate copyright laws. Internet providers should not be held responsible for all copyright infringements on the Web, the judges said.

The third-party providers of pirated films are not Swisscom customers or otherwise related to Swisscom, the Supreme Court wrote in its verdict. It has already been legally established that people who consume pirated movies for their own use do not break copyright laws.

Only lawmakers have the power to enforce the blocking of websites to protect intellectual property, the judges said.

Praesens-Film first brought the action against Swisscom in 2015. Two years later, the commercial court in canton Bern dismissed the complaint. The movie making company appealed, but the highest court in Switzerland has now also rejected their argument.

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